Union jack may be flying high for Wallaby Hooper
The loss of star Wallabies flanker David Pocock to injury has opened the door for Michael Hooper to fulfill a lifelong dream in tomorrow night's match against England at Twickenham.
Hooper's father was born in England, and while he is now a fair dinkum Aussie, other family members likely to be in the stands on Saturday night may well be waving the Union Jack.
"My dad is from Maidstone. He moved out to Sydney when he was about 24 and loved it. The sun and the beach, I think he got a bit accustomed to it so he ended up staying," Hooper said.
"He has spent most of his life out here. Mum is Australian so he is an Australian citizen now ... he'll be waving the Australian flag.
"If there is one game I wanted to start, it would have to be this one."
Given his heritage, Hooper could have played for England. But he said that was an option he had never really considered.
"I didn't consider trying to play for England," he said. "I heard that I could, but I always wanted to play for Australia, or have the potential to play for Australia. I love Australia.
"My dad's brother is still English so I'm not sure what flag he'll be waving on Saturday."
Despite last weekend's disappointing 33-6 loss to the French in Paris, Hooper said he loved every opportunity he got to line up opposite the best players in the world.
This week it will be Chris Robshaw, something Hooper said he wasn't fazed about after squaring off against All Blacks star Richie McCaw in the 18-all draw in Brisbane last month.
"When you step into it you have to try to bring your best, and in saying that it is an exciting experience," the 21-year-old said.
"Robshaw was great in the South African series. It's going to be a good battle. You want to play the best guys in the world and he is obviously doing really well for England so it is going to be exciting.
"I have been lucky enough now to play against Richie McCaw, so it doesn't make these things as hard when you have had previous experiences of other people."
As well as the absence of Pocock, coach Robbie Deans has also lost lock Rob Simmons after he copped eight weeks for a lifting tackle against the French, and also second-rower Kane Douglas (knee) and centre Pat McCabe (neck) to injury.